Since the COVID-19 pandemic, face masks have become a daily part of our routines. Many states require them for public health and personal safety — and it doesn’t look like that will be changing any time in the foreseeable future. Whether it is wearing masks at work, shopping at the grocery store, or running errands, the time spent wearing a medical, paper or cloth mask against the skin on your face can add up, thus causing skincare issues to flare-up. 

Many people are dealing with a new issue referred to as “acne mechanica” or “maskne.” Maskne refers to tiny, whitehead pimples that pop up after wearing a face mask. Face masks can cause breakouts and skin irritation for a variety of reasons, including:  

Keep reading to learn about some of our tips on avoiding acne from COVID-19 preventive face masks — and yes, we recommend that you keep wearing your face mask.


Wash Your Skin Every Night

 At the Dermatology Center for Skin Health, PLLC, we always recommend that our patients cleanse their skin each night before they go to bed, but we believe this step is especially important if they have been wearing a face mask all day. COVID-19 is susceptible to cleansers, which can easily penetrate and break up the virus’s protective coating. Make sure to lather the cleanser well and rub your fingers in a circular motion for about 20 seconds. Follow by rinsing thoroughly with lukewarm water.

A cleanser we would recommend is our Gly Sal 2-2 Cleanser. This cleanser is formulated with ultra-pure Glycolic Acid coupled with the proven acne-fighting ingredient Salicylic Acid USP 2%. Our cleanser unclogs pores and accelerates the removal of dead skin cells that can interfere with the proper oil drainage of the skin.


Apply a Moisturizer Under Your Mask

Moisturizer works to keep the skin hydrated and acts like a barrier to the friction caused by wearing a mask. We recommend looking for a moisturizer that is fragrance-free and oil-free. Additionally, you should avoid products that are heavy and can cause your skin to break out. 

 Some moisturizers we recommend would include:


Skip Makeup and Avoid Acne-Causing Ingredients

Consider skipping makeup on days where you will be wearing your mask for a long time. As stated previously, masks behave like occlusive barriers, and the makeup trapped underneath can lead to clogged pores and breakouts. Makeup will also make the fabric of your mask dirty.


Wear Clean Masks and Don’t Reuse Disposable Ones

It is essential to keep a clean rotation of masks on hand. While it can be tempting to re-wear disposable masks, they are not meant to be reused.  Reused disposable masks can harbor dirt, bacteria and makeup, which can lead to clogged pores and breakouts.  Cloth masks, however, can be re-worn, but make sure to wash them thoroughly first. 


Be Cautious About What Type of Laundry Detergent You Use

If you are going to wash and reuse a cloth face mask, choose a fragrance-free, dye-free laundry detergent and lay the mask flat to dry after it is washed. Laundry detergent with added fragrances can cause breakouts, rashes and other signs of skin irritation.


When Should I Visit My Dermatologist? | Dermatology Center for Skin Health, PLLC 

If you have acne breakouts that are not responding to skincare changes, we recommend visiting your dermatologist. Spreading redness or draining pus can be signs of infection. If you notice these symptoms, we recommend that you seek immediate medical attention.


How to prevent acne from face masks – CNET

8 Tips to Prevent Acne Caused By the Face Mask You Are Using to Protect Against COVID-19

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